Nissan has unveiled its Intelligent Mobility blueprint for transforming how cars are driven, powered and integrated into wider society.
Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn outlined several advancements during his keynote address at CES 2017.
Highlights of the announcement include the launch of Nissan’ breakthrough Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM) system. Developed from NASA technology, SAM partners in-vehicle artificial intelligence (AI) with human support to help autonomous vehicles make decisions in unpredictable situations and build the knowledge of in-vehicle AI. This technology will enable millions of driverless cars to co-exist with human drivers in an accelerated timeline. It is part of Nissan Intelligent Integration.
Leading a Renault-Nissan Alliance engagement, Nissan and Japanese Internet company DeNA will begin tests aimed at developing driverless vehicles for commercial services. The first phase of testing will begin this year in designated zones in Japan, with a focus on technology development. By 2020, Nissan and DeNA plan to expand the scope of their tests to include the commercial usage of driverless technology for mobility services in the Tokyo metropolitan area.
A new Nissan LEAF will be coming in the near future. The model will be equipped with ProPILOT technology, enabling autonomous drive functionality for single-lane highway driving. This new LEAF will build on the company’s leadership in electric vehicles, which includes more than 250,000 Nissan LEAFs sold worldwide since 2010. The new LEAF represents the next chapter of Nissan Intelligent Power.
The Renault-Nissan Alliance is continuing its partnership with Microsoft to build the next generation of connected car technologies. The keynote included a demonstration of how Microsoft’s personal assistant technology Cortana can make driving more efficient and enjoyable. Cortana is one of the technologies that the Alliance and Microsoft are exploring together.
Ghosn also announced a new partnership with 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC). 100RC is a global non-profit working to help cities build resilience to physical, social, and economic challenges. Together, Nissan and 100RC will help cities lay the groundwork for autonomous drive, electric vehicles, and new mobility services. Nissan is 100RC’s first automotive platform partner.
Nissan Intelligent Mobility
The world is facing serious challenges such as climate change, traffic congestion, road fatalities and increasing air pollution. Nissan is committed to addressing these challenges by making transportation safer, smarter, and more enjoyable, with the ultimate goal of achieving zero-emissions and zero-fatalities on the road. Nissan Intelligent Mobility is the roadmap.
Guided by the vision of mobility for all, Nissan is implementing these innovations by bringing them from luxury segments to compact high volume models and ensuring everyone has access to the benefits. Nissan is making cars exciting partners for all of our customers.
Nissan Intelligent Mobility encompasses three core areas of innovation:
Nissan Intelligent Driving helps to give customers more confidence through enhanced safety, control, and comfort for everyone on board. The building blocks for autonomous driving are already built into Nissan cars with extensive set of advanced safety features including Intelligent Around-View Monitor and Intelligent Lane Intervention. Autonomous drive technologies can already be found in certain Nissan vehicles today, including the Nissan Serena, the first model produced for the mass market to feature ProPILOT technology. Nissan has plans to extend this technology to more models in Europe, Japan, China and the United States, with 10 models to be launched by 2020 by the Renault-Nissan Alliance.
Nissan Intelligent Power makes driving more exciting for customers by continuing to reduce emissions and increase fuel economy. Nissan is committed to a holistic approach to achieving zero-emission mobility by making internal combustion engines more efficient and putting more advanced technologies into our electric vehicles. We continue to advance a variety of powertrain technologies under Nissan Intelligent Power, which are most suitable to the different market segments and different regions across the world. We have a diverse range of EV-based technologies in our portfolio in addition to 100% electric vehicles, these technologies include e-Power (series-hybrid) and fuel cell electric vehicles. Each new technology supplements the portfolio, but does not supplant other technologies.
Nissan Intelligent Integration keeps customers more connected by conveniently linking Nissan cars to the wider society. Nissan is helping to shape a sustainable ecosystem enabling cars to interact with people, other cars and road infrastructure. This approach will eventually lead to remote vehicle operation, reduced traffic jams, more efficient car-sharing, and improved energy management.
Nissan Intelligent Mobility is not about removing humans from the driving experience. Instead, it’s about building a better future for Nissan customers where cars are their partners, and where drivers are more confident and more connected.
Nissan Intelligent Integration
Advances in artificial intelligence are making vehicles smarter, more responsive, and better at making decisions in a variety of driving environments. But we are still not at a point where autonomous vehicles can know exactly how to handle unpredictable situations. This is one of the roadblocks to realizing a fully autonomous future for driving. The solution is Nissan’s Seamless Autonomous Mobility system or SAM.
During CES, Nissan conducted a live demonstration of the system in operation using a link-up to our Silicon Valley Research centre. The demonstration of the drive showed just how SAM will work in reality.
SAM will ensure a seamless mobility system in which millions of autonomous cars can operate safely and smoothly. SAM can help cars to navigate unforeseen situations that occur on city streets, such as accidents, road construction, or other obstacles.
Vehicle sensors (LIDAR, cameras, radars) can tell the car where obstacles are, the traffic light state, and even recognize some hand gestures, but human judgment is required to understand what other drivers and pedestrians are doing and decide on the appropriate course of action.
With SAM, the autonomous vehicle becomes smart enough to know when it should not attempt to negotiate the problem by itself, as in this instance. Instead, it brings itself to a safe stop and requests help from the command center. The request is routed to the first available mobility manager – a person who uses vehicle images and sensor data (streamed over the wireless network) to assess the situation, decide on the correct action, and create a safe path around the obstruction.
The mobility manager does this by “painting” a virtual lane for the vehicle to drive itself through. When the policemen wave the vehicle past, the manager releases the car to continue on by itself along the designated route. Once clear of the area, the vehicle resumes fully autonomous operations, and the mobility manager is free to assist other vehicles calling for assistance.
As this is all happening, other autonomous vehicles in the area are also communicating with SAM. The system learns and shares the new information created by the Mobility Manager. Once the solution is found, it’s sent to the other vehicles.
Because the system learns from experience, and autonomous technology improves, vehicles will require less assistance and each mobility manager will be able to guide a large number of vehicles simultaneously. There are several factors that will determine how many managers are necessary: for example, how busy the zone is, and what service the vehicle is providing, whether it’s for robo-taxis, robo-shuttle, or a robo-delivery vehicle.
NASA’s Visual Environment for Remote Virtual Exploration (VERVE) software, used to visualise and supervise interplanetary robots, was the starting point for Nissan’s SAM platform. NASA’s robots use autonomous technology to avoid obstacles and calculate safe driving paths through unpredictable and uncertain environments. Where the environment makes autonomous decision-making difficult, NASA supervisors draw the desired route and send to the robot for execution.
SAM is not for just Nissan vehicles, but for all vehicles.
“Our goal is to change the transportation infrastructure,” says Maarten Sierhuis, former NASA scientist and director of the Nissan Research Centre in Silicon Valley. “We want to reduce fatalities and ease congestion. We need a huge number of vehicles out there. What we are doing at Nissan is finding a way so that we can have this future transportation system not in 20 years or more, but now.”
“This is not only a demonstration of the transfer of space technology to industry, but also the application of their research back to our space technology, with additional uses for our unmanned aircraft systems research. This is a perfect example of technology literally driving exploration and enabling future space missions,” said Eugene Tu, Center Director, NASA Ames Research Center.
The backbone of SAM is human/machine teaming. The goal is not to remove the human from the system, but rather to use the human intelligence more strategically to support a larger system of autonomous mobility – and to help improve the artificial intelligence of the vehicles in realtime.